Sooo I was feeling sorry for myself recently. You know the feeling. Things I thought I would accomplish in my life didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. I probably would not win the Nobel Prize in Literature — sure I’m being facetious here, but when I was a baby poet as I called myself (and other poets under the age of 30) in my misspent youth, I thought I would set the poetic world on fire.
Why am I writing about this, you ask? I am reminded about something that a very wise poet said some years ago. I used to curate the poetry series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where we featured Kamau Daaood, a towering figure in Los Angeles poetry and a driving force behind Los Angeles black cultural renaissance. Before he read he spoke about the role of being a local artist “I was taught that the concept of the local artist is a noble one. That to live and work in a community and to be known for that work, brings dignity to ones life.”
Those words resonated with me. So much so that it brought me some peace of mind — look, I have no immediate family except my family of poets and, by extension, my students and the Right Honorable Sir Chumley of Amherst (the Best Kitty in the World). And I know that poetry has changed some of their lives and for the better. And, in the case of most of my students, had it not be for me they would not have ever delved into this world at all.
So what more do I need? Piles of gems on a gold platter? A face lift? Forgiveness for my shortcomings? The last one, would be nice, but would take forever I fear. And the others, well I’ve gone beyond that.
If you are reading this, this is my hope for you: know that wherever you are you make a difference in someone’s world. You might not know it, but you do. You don’t need to make that Hail-Mary play (as they say in football), you can just sit quietly where you are and listen to someone who needs to talk. Or just be.
Well, that’s it for tonight. Sleep well.